Gadfly Bites 9/27/17 - Fishing for sticks

  1. I was remiss in not clipping this piece from the massive “CBus Next” education package in the Dispatch last week. It is about “the future of education” and talks a lot about technology – robots, combining science with art and history classes, virtual reality, etc. That well known advocate of MOOCs and online course choice Aaron Churchill is quoted within, which is important. But as a side not: don’t a couple of those schools featured in here sounds really cool? I really think so, but I could be biased. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/22/17)
     
  2. Speaking of online education, ECOT this week cleared the first hurdle toward its regeneration as a dropout recovery school as the Ohio Department of Educated accepted its report that the majority of its students are in need of a special program for at-risk students. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/26/17)
     
  3. And speaking of alternatives to the status quo, let’s not forget the original “opt out”: homeschooling, which is still a sizeable slice of the education pie here in Ohio. And it’s gotten more sophisticated too: with “homeschool cooperatives” evolving to provide unique experiences for students and families well beyond the kitchen table. Take a look at the Red Oak Community School (unfortunate name choice, I know, but they’re working on that), one such co-op for children ages 5 to 11 that has been around for years and continues to grow. Its self-directed, back-to-nature bent seems quite popular. (Columbus Dispatch, 9/26/17)
     
  4. You will be pleased to know that the Mystery of the Bungled Broadcast of last week’s state board of education meeting has been solved. It was simple technology access issues and miscommunication thereof. Jinkies, I would have bet a Scooby snack that it was The Miner 49er. One bit of additional good news: those technology issues might not be resolved for another couple months. (Cleveland Plain Dealer, 9/25/17)
     
  5. Anyone remember the dour-looking gathering of school district superintendents at the Statehouse last year, escrying the “graduation apocalypse” facing their students in the Class of 2018 due to an increase in graduation requirements? Me neither, but it is a fond memory for the superintendent of tiny Shadyside Schools in Belmont County. That’s because he claims credit for making it happen and for the one-year moratorium on those requirements currently enjoyed by every student in the Class of 2018 which happened afterward. He and the other supes said an alternative to the requirements was needed because the Class of 2018 had not had enough time to acclimate to the new End of Course exams and that they shouldn’t be denied a diploma if that lack of familiarity led to low performance. As some folks suspected, however, a one year moratorium was not enough for the Supes of Doom. In this piece, Shadyside’s supe laments that “no action has been taken by the state to assist current juniors”, who of course have had an additional year to acclimate to the “new” tests. And he is girding his loins for the fight to extend the moratorium. Where does it end, I ask you? (Well, we all know.) The irony here is that this story appeared on the news site of a TV station in nearby Steubenville, Ohio. The local school district in Steubenville had three of its buildings receive an A grade in both student growth and test-based proficiency this year, placing it in rarefied company with high-wealth suburban schools. While it likely took a ton of work for Steubenville to manage this success, I wonder why it didn’t occur to Shadyside to give that a whirl first before storming the Statehouse barricades and changing the entire state’s accountability system? (WTOV-TV, Steubenville, 9/25/17)
     
  6. Some recent news from Youngstown: District CEO Krish Mohip is reporting some impressive academic improvements for kids participating in the new after school program introduced in the last five months of the previous school year. He has high expectations for more of the same with the first full-year version of the expanded program. (WFMJ-TV, Youngstown, 9/25/17) Meanwhile, this week saw the first meeting of the district’s Citizen’s Coalition to advise the CEO. Seems pretty encouraging from this report, but do recall that some folks are not keen on this arrangement. (WKBN-TV, Youngstown, 9/25/17) Speaking of those not-so-keen folks, they had a meeting this week. At it, they passed a petty resolution directed at an entity which has no power over any corner of state government. And for good measure, their resolution was worded so as to apply to districts other than Youngstown. Kudos are in order for the sheer scope of this sad lesson in futility. (Youngstown Vindicator, 9/27/17)
     
  7. Finally today, closure for a story that we first clipped back in the early summer, but whose roots (see what I did there?) reach back more than a year. A Toledo City Schools floriculture teacher was fired for giving away plants the district said were their valuable property. She had been suspended with pay for more than a year while the disciplinary process played out slower than watching grass grow. (Toledo Blade, 9/26/17)
 
 
Jeff Murray
Jeff Murray is the Ohio Operations Manager of the Thomas B. Fordham Institute,